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No organization is immune from the influence of management tools. Such tools as norms, indicators, ranking, evaluation grids and management control systems have moved outside the managerial and consultancy realm within which they were first developed to reach public administrations and policy-makers, as well as a range of other governmental and non-governmental organizations. Taking management tools out of the practical and utilitarian contexts to which they are often consigned and approaching them from a social analytical perspective, this book gives primacy to these everyday objects that constitute the background of organizational life and remain too often unquestioned. Bringing together developing streams of research from anthropology, political science, social psychology, sociology, accounting, organisation theory and management, Ève Chiapello and Patrick Gilbert offer an unprecedented theoretical synthesis that will help managers, scholars and policy-makers to unpack the functional and dysfunctional roles and effects of management tools within and across organizations.


'What are the tools that make it possible to manage? How do we make use of them, control them and to what effect? These are the fundamental questions that Chiapello and Gilbert address in a book that is as useful as it is fascinating. It is one that has much to teach not only scholars of management and organizations but also those want to think deeply about just what technology does.'

Wendy Nelson Espeland - Northwestern University, Illinois

'Organised along the distinction between different paradigms and based on illuminating empirical examples, this unique book comprehensively restores the theoretical, epistemological and methodological foundations of the diverse ways of knowing and inquiring on management tools and on tools of government. This brilliant tour de force is a must-read for all students and academics in the field of management, sociology, organisation theory and public policy and for all those fascinated by the power of instruments at the heart of capitalism, science and politics.'

Philippe Bezes - Centre national de la recherche scientifique and Sciences Po

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  • 1 - Theoretical Foundations
    pp 11-31
  • From the Study of Technique to the Analysis of Management Tools


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